Pizza Express launched their vegan menu back in June – since then they have had over 200,000 orders. The menu – which was a few years in the making, mostly down to sourcing the right kind of cheese, was created by Pizza’s Express’ team of chefs with both taste and nutrition in mind.
You may or may not be aware that Pizza Express offers ‘pizza making parties’ as an alternative to – well, ya know – sitting there and getting a waiter to bring your food over as you plough through the prosecco. So – we made some vegan pizzas!
Our evening began with some nibbles and delicious organic wine from their wine list. I’m a sucker for olives and sundried tomatoes, but we were also served plates of their trademark doughballs without the garlic butter you might associate them with, but instead with olive oil/balsamic and a tomato tapenade, which made them taste positively guilt free!
Next step; we were presented with aprons, hats and balls of dough. Alex, the chipper chef (who has obviously done this a few times before) gave his dough a few nimble-fingered prods before tossing it in the air, spinning it, deftly catching and laying it in a pizza pan.
We weren’t quite so proficient. It is actually quite tricky to stretch dough as thinly as per the Pizza Express house standard (they’re not being mean btw – it’s all to do with the ratio of heat and creating the perfect crust) – mine sort of ended up looking like Sigourney Weaver’s belly before the alien pops out – but Alex fixed it with his pizza-ninja skills.
Then came the toppings; on Pizza Express’ vegan menu you might see – for example – the Giardiniera, which is made with artichokes, mushrooms, onions and parsley. But Alex just let us freestyle it, so mine had loads of jalapenos, red peppers, chilli oil – everything spicy, basically!
Then out came the cheese – that one which Pizza Express had so long deliberated. They keep it frozen (as it gets a little sticky) and in exact serving sizes (so those counting calories won’t miss the mark). A regular pizza needs two of these servings (honestly, I could have happily put four on but rules is rules!)
Seemingly around 30 seconds later (I think it was really 6 mins) our creations were served to us. Critically, I’d have given myself about 6 out of ten, as less would have been more on the caramelised onion jam! But nevertheless, it was delicious.
You could book a pizza making party at Pizza Express for a group of two upwards (so it’s a ‘party’ at least) and they are a wonderful thing to do for a kids’ birthday party also (it’s £11.95 a head for this and worth every penny).
Obviously, you could also just rock up to any one of their restaurants and order a delicious vegan pizza (200,000 others have done this already!) and have a ninja-fingered professional cook it for you. It will probably be lighter, crisper and not have a soggy puddle of jam in the middle. But I feel like I learned something…
BTW – even if you weren’t vegan, it is worth checking out the specialist menu (you might be aware Pizza Express also offer gluten-free) as honestly, you won’t notice the difference one smidge with their excellent dairy-free cheese. And an interesting fact; all the vegan pizzas have half a cherry tomato at their edge – a sign that they are authentic and have not come into contact with any animal-based ingredients.
If you’re wondering about dessert (of course you are) there are some delicious dairy-free sorbet options at around 200 calories.
Apparently, Pizza Express make a big deal about ‘not making a big deal’ when it comes to allergens, intolerances and food preferences. In other words, if you need something special, just ask (or call ahead) and it will be seamlessly dealt with. Translation: there won’t be a huge kerfuffle as a red-faced manager yells ‘why the fork did you come for pizza if you can’t eat bread or cheese?!’
Find out more about pizza making parties, events and of course the vegan menu here.
SM would like to thank the staff at Pizza Express, Gloucester Road.